If you’ve got a Pinterest account, more than one follower on Instagram or a savvy teen who keeps getting gorgeous monthly packages in the mail, no doubt you’ve heard of subscription boxes—and you’re probably not going to be surprised to learn just how lucrative these specialized mailing services can be.
The subscription box business model has become the darling of entrepreneurs in the past few years, especially since they might mean that business owners won’t have to pay sky-high rents on brick-and-mortar shops. This relatively new way of doing business can result in substantially lower overhead and a potentially much larger profit margin than more traditional business models have. Maybe you’ve even considered starting a subscription box business for your home business or your existing company. It may seem like all fun and games (not to mention “likes” and “retweets”), but there are many things to keep in mind before starting your own subscription-based business. Let’s talk about some of the different aspects of subscription services, including what items work best and the importance of the actual custom boxes the products arrive in.
What to Ship
One of the most common comments we hear: “I’ve seen them on social media, I think they might work for my business, but exactly how do subscription boxes work?” Basically, subscription boxes can either be an entire business themselves, or they can serve as a wonderful incentive for customers who want to try many different products before committing to the one that works best for them. Popular items include things like:
- “X” of the month subscriptions
- samples of more expensive beauty products
- seasonal houseplants, flower arrangements or wreaths
- surprise boxes that include something like a perfect date night!
Subscription boxes work well for small businesses wanting to get their names out there, or for larger, more high-end companies that offer products many people can’t afford a “full size” of. They’re also a great way for out-of-state customers to get something close to an “in-store” experience—except this time, the store comes to them!
How to Ship It
One of the most important subscription box business tips? Just because you don’t have a brick-and-mortar store doesn’t mean you don’t have a storefront. It just becomes the box itself! Since customers aren’t coming to your store to pick up their items, the box may be their first interaction with your company. What impression sounds better to you? A weather-beaten, nondescript brown box that they guess might be their subscription package, or a branded, glossy and even personalized box in bright colors that they want to document on social media and share with all their friends? Yeah, we thought so. Make sure you’re taking advantage of all the “real estate” offered by the boxes themselves—we’ve seen companies print instructions on the inner lid, include confetti inside or even allow the box to be a part of the package (we love the idea of folding a box into a flower pot for plant subscriptions.)
Subscription boxes are a fun, social-media friendly way to keep your company’s name in the heads of your customers—and they certainly save you on the majority of costs commonly associated with running a business. Before you commit to running a subscription service of your own, ask yourself the following:
- Are your items something that can be easily shipped?
- Are you ready to consistently prepare and ship boxes every month, quarter or whatever shipping schedule you decide on?
- What image and message do you want to convey to your customers with your box?
Think your business has what it takes to be the next booming success in the subscription box industry? Then by all means, let’s chat!